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Oct 11, 2023

In today's episode we are joined by Carson Brakke to discuss how early modern concepts and anxieties about hospitality and cannibalism influenced early modern literature and drama, most explicitly in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus

Carson breaks down the early modern concept of hospitality and shares the cultural debates and dilemmas that centered around it and its inherent dangers. Join us as she guides us through the cognitive dissonance surrounding cannibalism for early modern Europeans, who simultaneously used it to other non-Europeans while possibly participating in cannibalism themselves! 

We also explore how readers and theatre-makers today can use this knowledge to interpret scenes of hospitality and cannibalism in Shakespeare and other early modern works.

Content warning: cannibalism is discussed throughout this episode. Please listen with care. 

Our guest: Carson Brakke is a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and is writing her dissertation on representations of hospitality in early modern English literature. In addition to hospitality, her research interests include domesticity, food studies, and women’s writing. To break up the solitary work of dissertating, Carson uses her TikTok platform to talk about early modern literature and the PhD experience. You can find her @glutenbergbible, where she’s always looking to chat with more people about research, academia, and the weird and surprising sides of early modern English literature!

Shakespeare Anyone? is created and produced by Kourtney Smith and Elyse Sharp.

Music is "Neverending Minute" by Sounds Like Sander.

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Works referenced:

Brakke, Carson. “The Dangers of Hospitality in Shakespeare: The Hostess in The Rape of Lucrece and The Winter’s Tale.” Journal of the Wooden O, vol. 21, 3 June 2022, pp. 1–12,

Shahani, Gitanjali G. Tasting Difference: Food Race and Cultural Encounters in Early Modern Literature. Cornell University Press, 2021.